Myanmar protecting its Sharks

Myanmar has moved to protect the shrinking shark population in its southern waters which have been hit by illegal fishing.

A shark protection zone was proposed late last month for Myeik (Mergui) archipelago, which comprises more than 800 islands stretching some 400 kilometres (248 miles) north to south along the peninsula shared with Thailand, according to the edition of the Myanmar Times, the semi-official weekly, to be published Monday.

"The implementation of the proposal will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and will include enacting the necessary laws to protect sharks," Yin Yin Lay, director of the National Commission for Environmental Affairs, was quoted as saying.

She said the action was taken to stem the alarming decline of shark numbers in the zone due to illegal hunting for their fins, which are considered delicacies in parts of Asia.

Across the globe, fishermen have increasingly targeted sharks for markets in Southeast Asia where the expensive dish of shark fin soup is widely popular. Many shark populations have been knocked out by over-fishing, experts say.

The method used worldwide in fishing for sharks' fins is to catch the shark, cut off its fins and throw the poor shark back to the sea where it soon gets eaten up by predators for without it's fins the shark can't swim. Do you want to eat sharks' fin soup again??

Myanmar's environmental commission put the proposal to cabinet for approval after studying surveys done by the University of Mawlamyine, Yin Yin Lay said. The paper did not report how the protection of the zone would be enforced.

Environmentalists have said that the Myeik archipelago, already tapped as a tourism destination, could generate funds from diving expeditions to observe sharks, the weekly said.



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